Internally geared hubs have gained massive popularity among cycling enthusiasts in recent times – and understandably so.
After a brief switch to derailleurs, users are back to preferring internal hub gears. If you’re looking to invest in or switch back to internal gear hubs, you’ve come to the perfect place.
We have created a complete guide equipped with six product recommendations to help you find the best internal gear hub.
Additionally, the article includes a buying guide as well as the answers to some frequently asked questions. Your search for the perfect internally geared hub ends here!
Best Internal Gear Hub Review
Listed below are some of the toppers on the market, along with their pros and cons.
We understand that the jargon can be quite confusing, so we have reviewed them for people of all levels of experience to understand fully well.
SHIMANO SG-3C41 Universal Hub Kit Nexus
We’re kicking this list of recommendations off with one of the best manufacturers in the business! With several dependable models, components from this brand are considered a staple in cycles.
This particular product is considered a great pick for commuters due to its simplicity and clean design.
First of all, the gear hub is very easy to install. This makes it a great pick for the average rider; however, the hub itself does not come fully assembles, which might be worth keeping in mind.
It is a simple model that requires very little maintenance effort. Additionally, the hub has a 186% gear range and offers great value for money.
In terms of operation, this internal gear hub makes your bike feel like it has come fresh out of the store.
Not only that, but the hub is also extremely durable and offers uniform performance all throughout its lifespan.
For a smooth and comfortable ride along with noiseless operation, this is one of the best gear hubs available!
SHIMANO XT HB-M8110 Centerlock Disc Brake Hub
Mountain bikers, rejoice, for you have already stumbled across one of the top internal gear hubs for your intended use! With incredible durability and rigidity, this is a cult-favorite, trail-tested model.
The lock ring mounting system on the hub makes installation and de-installation a breeze, making it suitable for everyone.
With a body made of aluminum, the hub is extremely lightweight hence does not add any drag to the bike.
It also features a type of bearing known as ‘cup and cone,’ which offers great strength compared to sealed cartridge industrial bearings.
This is due to the fact that it can disperse load more effectively and offer better weight balance.
It also features the manufacturer’s own quick engagement system, which means the hub is equipped with two sets of pawls and 18/16 notches, which boost engagement and result in faster acceleration.
These features altogether create a great component for enduro or mountain biking!
Related Guide: DT Swiss 240s Vs 350 Hub
Sturmey-Archer S80 8 SPD Internal Drum Brake 36H
Our next recommendation is set to stun. You would be hard-pressed to find an internal gear hub that could rival its gear ratio, that too within this price range.
With its highest and lowest gears too extreme for use, the hub can take on any sort of terrain and deliver the same, impeccable performance all throughout.
This 8-speed hub offers supremely reliable shifting. As a result, you can ride across steep or gentle slopes with similar ease and comfortable pedaling speed.
In terms of cost, this gear hub provides several features that make a totally cost-effective option.
The kit also comes with all the shifters and cables necessary for installation and use.
Many competing manufacturers do not make such equipment available with purchase.
Overall, this is one of our most favorite picks. Its performance will not disappoint even the most experienced rider.
SHIMANO SG-3D55 Universal Hub Kit Nexus
This is a pretty straightforward gear hub with standard features. It may look like it pales in comparison with other hubs, but believe us when we tell you it is undoubtedly one of the most reliable hubs you can purchase.
With incredibly reliable shifting, you can rely on the hub entirely to make you ride comfortably and easily.
Additionally, the hub boasts a standard gear range of 186%, which will allow you to take on any basic terrain.
You may want to refrain from steep terrains or mountain biking, but other than that, the hub has got your back.
A lightweight aluminum hub shell reduces any additional strain from weighing down on your bike.
The kit also comes with a non-turn washer and 19 tooth cog, that’s two equipment you no longer have to purchase separately.
All in all, we can’t recommend this simple yet reliable product enough, and it is definitely one of the high-quality internal gear hubs, in our opinion.
SHIMANO Alfine 11-Speed
Our next recommendation comes from this trustworthy manufacturer’s higher-end range.
Despite taking a tad bit more out of your pocket, it offers great features that are tough to find in other internal gear hubs.
Firstly, it comes in two different sizes (32h and 36h), which makes the product more adaptable to your bike right off the bat.
Additionally, it boasts a high drive efficiency, and thanks to the sprockets, it is also noticeably durable.
Furthermore, the hub has a gear range of 409% – that’s right, 409%, which is nearly unheard of. There’s not terrain or slope that you cannot take on with this hub.
Moreover, the hub makes use of oil lubrication, and the hub allows for regular oil changes.
Keeping up this small maintenance requirement will keep your hub impressively smooth at all times.
Altogether, this gear hub offers smooth and quiet shifting while remaining highly dependable all throughout.
Rohloff Disc-Speedhub 500/14
Gear hubs from this particular manufacturer are often highly recommended for touring.
And why shouldn’t it be? It is one of the most versatile and reliable gear hubs, and it is power-packed with all the right features.
With a guarantee of minimum maintenance and 100,000 km covered, this is a cult-favorite.
The gear hub has a gear ratio of 526%. As if that’s not enough, it also has an equally spaced gear ratio, meaning gear changes are very uniform and easy to predict or plan.
Add to that the ability to shift without pedaling, and you have a perfect gear hub that remains foolproof across all terrains.
As the hub has a bigger shell, it makes the spokes shorter, and as a result, the wheels stronger. This is also another plus point for touring.
The single-speed drivetrain ensures that the chain does not drop or skip at any point during the ride – just like a single speed.
This gear hub also has a very sleek design that complements the bike really well.
Related Article: Super quality Mountain Bike Forks under $300
What to Look for Before You Buy?
Outlined below are some features which make or break internal gear hubs. If you are looking to make a purchase independent of the list above, this section will be worth looking into.
One of the biggest selling points of an internal gear hub is the low maintenance nature of it.
However, some models may still need to be checked up on more frequently than others.
For example, a certain hub may need more frequent oil changes than others.
Before purchasing an internal gear hub, make sure to look into how much maintenance usually goes into it and ensure that you are ready for the up-keep. You wouldn’t want a great hub to waste away due to negligence!
Being housed inside a hub saves the interior of the system from being exposed to the elements. This reduces, if not eliminates, chances of corrosion or damage.
However, the hub itself should be made of good, high quality, and high strength material to ensure the components inside remain safe too.
Check the manufacturer’s manual or handbook to see how and how often the hub needs to be lubricated. It should clearly indicate if the parts call for oil or grease if the component needs frequent oil changes and so on.
Some people are better versed with tools than others. But that should not stop anyone from enjoying these beautiful internal gear hubs.
There are some easy to install models for those who want an easy way to take full advantage of such hubs without shelling out on a professional’s services.
Gear ratio can be thought of as the range of gears or speeds your hub can cover. For those looking to take their bikes out for a spin in the mountains, hilly areas or uneven terrains, higher gear ratios are a must.
And for daily commuters or those looking to bike in flatlands only, a standard gear ratio of 186% will do.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does an internal gear hub work?
These hubs use a system known as the planetary or epicycle system. It consists of a sun gear (fixed), three planetary gears that rotate about the sun gear (output), and a case that contains all four of these gears (input).
Altogether, they create a system that allows the rider to shift gears effortlessly.
Why install internal gear hubs?
Internal gear hubs are loved by all due to three key factors: reliability, maintenance, and shifting. Firstly, internally geared hubs are very, very difficult to damage.
The entire system is held in a casing, which means it is protected at all times, making it heavily reliable.
Secondly, internal gear hubs barely need any maintenance all throughout its very long service life.
Last, but definitely not the least, internal gear hubs allow you to change gears even when stationary! This means you no longer have to risk starting your bike at a gear that’s too high for comfort.
Internal gear hubs vs. derailleur?
Internal gear hubs have gained popularity over derailleurs due to its low-maintenance nature.
Chains also last longer with internal gear hubs than they do with derailleurs.
Additionally, derailleurs are more prone to damage than internal hubs, do not have the ability to shift multiple gears at once.
These are only a number of pros and cons from an extensive list. The choice will come down to your personal preference. And the research will pay off in finding what’s best for you!
Are multiple gear options a must?
In flat areas, single speed gears are the most choice among bikers. That is because the terrain does not require several different gears, and neither does the primary purpose of biking, which is usually to commute.
So no, it is not absolutely necessary to opt for a multi-year internal gear hub. However, these gear hubs should be the first choice for anyone considering taking-on uneven trails, mountain biking, or endure.
Without such gear hubs, the ride can become extremely uncomfortable and, to some extent, impossible.
What is the best way to lubricate an internally geared hub?
The two most popular ways in which this system is lubricated are grease and oil, and the manufacturer of your IGH system will most likely specify which one is better or required for your particular product.
And with that, we conclude our guide on buying the best internal gear hub! These components can truly change the experience of biking and make it more adventurous.
With the correct gear hub, you’ll be ready to take on great trails and maybe even find yourself a new hobby in biking!